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How to Meditate

Meditation is a popular way to relax. It can be done by focusing on something for a period. It can also focus on your breathing or on feelings in your body. The goal of meditation is to quiet your mind. This can reduce stress. It can lower the risk of some health problems like heart disease.

Meditation works by calming the part of the nervous system that raises heart rate, breathing rate, or blood pressure. At the same time, it seems to help the part of the nervous system that helps you relax. There are many types of meditation. Here is some basic information that to help you get started.

How Meditation Helps

Meditation can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. This can help:

  • Lower your heart rate and blood pressure by opening blood vessels
  • Slow your breathing
  • Relax muscles
  • Make it easier to fight off illness
  • Give you more energy
  • Make it easier to focus
  • Make you feel more aware

Meditation has been studied to treat of health problems like:

Meditation Basics

There are many different types of meditation and no right technique for everybody. Find out what works best for you. Most types of meditation include the following basic elements:

Position

Before you start, do these things to make your body comfortable:

  • Use a cushion to sit on the floor or sit in a chair.
  • Make sure the cushion you sit on is a little higher in the back than in front. You should tip forward a bit.
  • If you use a chair, keep your knees a little apart. Rest your hands in your lap.
  • Keep your shoulders even and your elbows away from your sides.
  • Keep your spine straight but not stiff.
  • You do not have to sit with your legs crossed but it can help you relax.

Focus

Try these tips to help focus your mind:

  • Find a quiet place.
  • Repeat a word (mantra) or stare at or an object.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Breathe through your nose if you can.
  • Notice your breathing but stay relaxed. Breathe like normal.

Progress

It may be hard to focus at first. Like most things, meditation should get easier with practice. Try different kinds of meditation to find out what works best for you. Think about taking a meditation class. Some classes have a spiritual focus. Others are more focused on lowering stress. Talk to the teacher about your goals and what you like to figure out if the class is right for you. With a little practice you will be on your way to feeling more relaxed and at peace.

RESOURCES:

Mental Health America
http://www.nmha.org

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
http://nccam.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

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Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 19, 2021.

How to Meditate. How to Meditate website. Available at: http://www.how-to-meditate.org/index.php. Accessed January 19, 2021.

Hypertension alternative treatments. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 19, 2021.

Insomnia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed January 19, 2021.

Meditation: An introduction. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) website. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm. Accessed January 19, 2021.

Relaxation therapies. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Accessed January 19, 2021.

Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 1/29/2021